Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Give Albert Woodfox a Hug for the Holidays; Please Take Action!

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox embraces Herman Wallace)

In Homer Louisiana, Albert Woodfox remains in his cell - 42 years in solitary and held under increasingly severe restrictions. From the unnecessary and extensive use of the black-box during transport, to the 'catch-22' system making it impossible for Albert to have contact visits, it appears that the response to his most recent court victory is to continue turning the screws ever tighter. 

Not surprisingly, the Louisiana Attorney General has filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court asking them to review their recent ruling that upheld a lower court's 2013 overturning of Albert's conviction. We anticipate a response from the Fifth Circuit in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, want to register our concern with the Louisiana Department of Corrections about the recent denial of contact visits to Albert, as explained further in the section below. We hope you'll join us in contacting the Department of Corrections to request that they apply their visitation policy fairly.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Albert Woodfox's Overturned Conviction Upheld in Unanimous 5th Circuit Decision

MEDIA COVERAGE: Times Picayune (1, 2, 3, 4II  The Advocate  II  Democracy Now! (watch part two) II  The Guardian  II  Solitary Watch  II  Amnesty USA  II  Amnesty International  II Liberation News  II Telegraph UK  II  National Public Radio  II  ABA Journal  II  KNOE 8 / AP  II  Reuters  II  NY Times: 4 decades of solitary is "barbaric beyond measure"

We are thrilled and honored to announce that just hours ago, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Brady's 2013 ruling overturning Albert's conviction for a third time in a 3-0, unanimous decision (view a PDF of the official court ruling here).

Though the courts have finally ruled in the interest of justice, it may still be months or years before this innocent man is released from his solitary cell.

This is THE moment those of us whose lives have been touched by these men and this case over the years have been waiting for. This is the time when we must call upon the whole of our connections, creativity, and courage to call with one voice for the immediate, unequivocal release of Albert Woodfox from prison once and for all without delay.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Albert Woodfox's Courtroom Battles Continue; Oct. 29 and Beyond

(PHOTO: A3 supporters gather in support of Albert Woodfox)

Please join us on the morning of Wednesday, October 29th, at the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit (600 Camp St.) in New Orleans for oral arguments about whether or not to uphold Judge Brady's January 2014 ruling that put an end to the invasive, dehumanizing strip and cavity searches Albert had been tortured by since May of 2013. 

As you may remember, this is the second of two outstanding appeals of rulings in A3's favor that have frozen progress towards the final trial prep stages of the decade long A3 civil case, which seeks to establish long term solitary as the unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment the A3 know it to be.

The cruel and rather perplexing irony of this corner of the civil case is that it was a lawsuit that Albert himself filed and won in 1978 that put an end to the demeaning practice for decades, until two months after his conviction was overturned for a 3rd time.  It was then that prison officials at David Wade Correctional Center, where he is currently being held, inexplicably began to again routinely strip and cavity search Albert every time he left or entered his cell, even if he was shackled and had no contact with anyone besides prison officials.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A3 Newsletter: One Year Later, Remember Herman, Free Albert! Oct. 4 Second Line in New Orleans (Oct.1, 2014)

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we blacks are wise.
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.
--Langston Hughes,
Justice, 1923

Today marks one year since Herman's lifelong struggle for justice from the courts finally granted him a few days of freedom. Please join with us as we cry out in remembrance of Herman's life and legacy, and as we draw inspiration from his spirit to now fight even harder for Albert's release.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Terrorism, COINTELPRO, and the Black Panther Party --An interview with law professor Angela A. Allen-Bell

(PHOTO:  Angela A. Allen-Bell joins Amnesty International in support of the Angola 3 outside of the Louisiana State Capitol on April 17, 2012.)

Terrorism, COINTELPRO, and the Black Panther Party
--An interview with law professor Angela A. Allen-Bell

By Angola 3 News

This past July, students from Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project visited the infamous Louisiana State Prison known as Angola. While there, students landed an impromptu interview with Warden Burl Cain, where they asked him about an inmate at Angola named Kenny ‘Zulu’ Whitmore, who has now been in solitary confinement for 28 consecutive years. This important interview was cited afterwards by Time Magazine in an article examining the impact of solitary confinement on prisoners’ health.

Zulu Whitmore is a member of the Angola Prison chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP) that was first started in the early 1970s by Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3. In reply to the students’ question about Whitmore, Cain cited his affiliation with the Angola BPP and expressed concern that Whitmore could spread his beliefs in the prison, sparking violence among inmates. “The Black Panther Party advocates violence and racism—I’m not going to let anybody walk around advocating violence and racism,” Cain said. At the time of publication, Whitmore remains in solitary confinement.

Burl Cain’s characterization of the BPP as “advocating violence and racism” is reminiscent of a deposition he gave on October 22, 2008, following Albert Woodfox’s second overturned conviction, where Cain cited Woodfox’s affiliation with the BPP as a primary reason for not removing him from solitary confinement. Asked what gave him “such concern” about Woodfox, Cain stated: “He wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant.” Cain then stated that even if Woodfox were innocent of the murder, he would want to keep him in solitary, because “I still know he has a propensity for violence…he is still trying to practice Black Pantherism, and I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize the young new inmates.”

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox, left, with Kenny 'Zulu' Whitmore, right, in 2009.)

The remarks by Burl Cain in 2008 and 2014 are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to misrepresenting the Black Panther Party. “Until history is accurately told, this type of misinformation will live on and we will all suffer as a result of it,” argues Southern University Law professor Angela A. Allen-Bell in the interview featured below. Her new article, published by the Journal of Law and Social Deviance, entitled “Activism Unshackled & Justice Unchained: A Call to Make a Human Right Out of One of the Most Calamitous Human Wrongs to Have Taken Place on American Soil,” turns the tables on the anti-BPP rhetoric by asking if what the BPP sustained at the hands of government officials is itself akin to domestic terrorism.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A3 Newsletter: How Long Can Injustice Endure? (Aug. 8, 2014)

Desmond Tutu says apartheid was such an injustice that it had to end. We wonder if the Palestinians in Gaza can have the same hope?

The Angola 3 have long stood in opposition to colonization, oppression and genocide internationally as well as here at home.  We painfully watch our US made F-16's dropping US made bombs on innocent civilians in an effort to drive the indigenous people from their land in spite of peace agreements and UN mandates.

We have to question not just the prison industrial complex that keeps Albert ridiculously isolated in the worst possible circumstances in spite of the fact that his conviction has been overturned three times.

An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Panthers in the Hole: French Angola 3 Book Illustrates US Prison Crisis --An interview with Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International France

(You can buy Panthers in the Hole, the new graphic novel about the Angola 3 here.)

Panthers in the Hole: French Angola 3 Book Illustrates US Prison Crisis

--An interview with Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International France

By Angola 3 News

Amnesty International France and La Boîte à Bulles have published a 128-page French language graphic novel entitled Panthers in the Hole. The book's co-authors David Cénou and Bruno Cénou present with visual art what Amnesty France describes as "la tragique histoire des Trois d'Angola" (the tragic story of the Angola 3).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Say NO to Another Supermax! (June 25, 2014)

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is organizing a national call-in day on Thursday, June 26 to stop the opening of another Supermax prison. We encourage A3 supporters to join us by taking action with NRCAT, whose call-in alert is featured below.

Grassroots Leadership Honors Robert King

This month, the board and staff of Grassroots Leadership, in North Carolina, spent the evening with Robert King of the Angola 3. Grassroots Leadership wrote afterwards: "We are so profoundly thankful for the opportunity to sit with King as he shared his experience as a political prisoner for 31 years, and to honor him for modeling resilience and hope in the service of social justice."

Read the complete report-back here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A3 Newsletter: 42 Years and Still Waiting (June 18, 2014)

(New poster by artist César Maxit)

All eyes are on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals as we move into summer.

Most urgently of course, we wake up every day hopeful that the court will choose to affirm Judge Brady's ruling that overturned Albert's conviction for a third time. Although there is no way to know when they will rule, the average decision wait time is 10 months, so we expect word soon, and certainly by early fall.

Meanwhile, the landmark A3 civil case seeking to define long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment carries on through Robert and Albert since Herman's passing. Final preparation and definite trial dates for the civil case remain frozen pending resolution of two appeals the State has filed with the 5th Circuit contesting two of Judge Brady's recent decisions in A3's favor. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Solitary Reflections Lead to Congressional Action (May 8, 2014)

RELATED:  Huffington Post  II  Amy Goodman's Truthdig column  II  Robert King in French News:  I Tele, RFI, and France TV (at 23:45)

(PHOTO: US Congressman Cedric Richmond)

The Solitary Study and Reform Act of 2014

Today we are thrilled to announce that U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond has introduced a simple but visionary piece of legislation that seeks to first study and then actively reform both the federal and state use of solitary confinement to ensure it is used effectively, infrequently, transparently, and Constitutionally.

The bill would establish a two-year bipartisan Commission tasked with exhaustively studying existing solitary confinement uses and impacts in the US, exploring best practices with experts, and then recommending a new national standard to be adopted by the US Attorney General no longer than 2 years after the Commission's findings are presented.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Albert Woodfox Speaks to the Experts

The essay featured below, Albert Woodfox Speaks to the Experts, from the Why Am I Not Suprised? blog is reprinted in full with permission of the author. 

Now 42 years since Albert was first put in solitary, Amnesty International has renewed its call for Albert's immediate release (view Amnesty's recent statement and essay). If you have not yet done so, please sign the Amnesty petition today.

(PHOTO: The author with Albert Woodfox)

This past weekend, I visited Albert Woodfox for the umpteenth time in the last five years. All but one of the visits have been at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana, five hours from where I live.  At the beginning, it was a grueling trip because I wasn't used to it and I have to go up on Saturday and come back the following day for a total of ten hours behind the wheel in one weekend. Sometimes it rains and once, it poured all the way up and all the way back.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Beyond Imagining - 42 Years in Solitary (April 17, 2014)

RELATED:  Albert Woodfox Speaks to the Experts II  Amnesty International Blog -- 42 Years of Injustice: When Will Louisiana Wake Up? 

(PHOTOS: A billboard campaign to mark the 42-year commemoration launched in New Orleans today.)

As we mark the 42nd year since the tragic and as yet, unsolved murder of Angola correctional officer Brent Miller, and the 42nd year since Albert Woodfox was first put in solitary for a crime he didn't commit, we are confident that it will be the last.  We remain hopeful that the 5th Circuit will finally side with justice and affirm Judge Brady's second decision to throw out Albert's conviction once and for all.  Although he will then have to petition for bail and potentially face a retrial, freedom will not be far behind.  With the civil case only months from trial, thousands of others who languish in long-term solitary could soon have the necessary legal precedent to challenge their conditions as constitutionally cruel and unusual.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Solitary Confinement Exhibition Plants Seed for Advocacy Among SULC Student Body

Solitary Confinement Exhibition Plants Seed for Advocacy Among SULC Student Body

Written for Angola 3 News by Arisa A. Banks

(3L Class Representative; Symposium Editor, Journal of Race, Gender, & Poverty)

The seed for advocacy was planted among the student body stirred by the Solitary Confinement Exhibition, during 2014 Law Week activities at the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Razor Wire, Prison Cells, and Black Panther Robert H. King’s Life of Resistance --An interview with filmmaker Ron Harpelle

Hard Time (2014) from Shebafilms Kelly Saxberg on Vimeo.

In Security from Shebafilms Kelly Saxberg on Vimeo.

Razor Wire, Prison Cells, and Black Panther Robert H. King’s Life of Resistance
--An interview with filmmaker Ron Harpelle

By Angola 3 News

A new 40-minute documentary film by Canadian History Professor Ron Harpelle, entitled Hard Time, focuses on the life of Robert Hillary King, who spent 29 years in continuous solitary confinement until his conviction was overturned and he was released from Louisiana's infamous Angola State Prison in 2001.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Teenie Believes Me

RELATED:  Two lessons the USA must learn from Glenn Ford, by Tessa Murphy of Amnesty International  II  CCR: Speak Out Against Discriminatory Federal Prison Units

Angola 3 Newsletter, March 4, 2014: "This Needs to Stop..."

(PHOTO: Teenie Rogers in Amnesty Intl. video)

Today, Amnesty International released a new interview with Teenie Rogers, the widow of correctional officer Brent Miller, the man who Albert and Herman were wrongfully convicted of murdering.  Much like her first public statements six years ago, she continues to believe the State got it wrong; that Herman and Albert are innocent; and that an injustice has been done to her, Brent, Robert, Herman, and Albert.

"This needs to stop, for me and my family to get closure," she says. She expresses sadness that she tried but was unable to see Herman before he passed and explains: "I am speaking out now because I don't want another innocent man to die in prison."

Robert concurs: "Teenie believes me. She believes that the Angola 3 had nothing to do with her husband's murder. She believes that Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace and I suffered years of cruel solitary confinement as innocent men. ... [T]he state hasn't done justice by her, either. She's angry. We both are. Louisiana authorities are hell bent on blaming the wrong person. Well, I'm hell bent on setting him free.

Stand with Robert, Teenie, and Amnesty and call on Louisiana officials to immediately release Albert Woodfox!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A3 Newsletter: One Year Later: Albert Woodfox is still not convicted or released

One year ago today, supporters of Albert Woodfox were elated when Judge Brady's ruling on Albert's criminal case was announced.  It was a THIRD overturning of his conviction!

How can it be possible that an innocent man, who now stands unconvicted in the eyes of the law, remains locked in a solitary cage while he waits for the State's endless appeal efforts to play out?  How many more appeals, how many courts will it take for the State to finally recognize that they've done enough to this man? 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Robert King in Canada for Hard Time screenings: Photos and Media Coverage

ROBERT KING IN THE NEWS:  Tout Le Monde En Parle  II  Interview by Canadian Prison Radio Show  II  Morning News Montreal Televison Interview  II  La Presse: En croisade contre le milieu carcéral américain  II  Montreal Gazette Interview  II  Le Devoir: 29 ans d’isolement en prison  II  BBC News: Scientists call solitary confinement 'damaging and unnecessary'  II  Japan Times / AFP: In prisons, solitary takes toll on minds  II  VIDEO: Science Magazine Live Chat w/ Robert King; Is Solitary Confinement Torture?  II  CNN: 29 Years in a Box  

(PHOTO: Robert King w/ filmmaker Ron Harpelle at the Toronto Black Film Festival. View more photos below.)

(PHOTO: Robert King and Ron Harpelle w/ Kathleen Cleaver at the Montreal Black Film Festival.)

As announced in our last newsletter, the Angola 3's Robert King has been traveling in the US, speaking in Chicago about solitary confinement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in Canada alongside screenings of the film Hard Time.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A3 Newsletter: Don't Stand Still, Stand Up! (Legal Update, Upcoming Events with Robert King, and Feb. 15 Vigil)

As we begin this month, we've learned the civil case jointly filed by Robert King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox has been frozen as the State once again appeals a federal decision not in their favor, and we all still anxiously word as to whether Albert's conviction will be vacated once and for all.  On February 19th, Albert turns 67, and the 26th will mark one year since his conviction was overturned for a third time, but somehow, despite decades of struggle and mountains of evidence pointing to innocence, he still shivers in a solitary cell.

Rather than settling in and slowing down to wait out the new delays, we must instead follow Robert and Albert's examples and use this down time to stand up!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"The Year of Justice and Freedom?" A Message to Supporters from Albert Woodfox

(Page one of Albert's letter to supporters)

I would like to take this time to express my profound gratitude to all the wonderful friends, supporters and comrades around the world for your unbelievable solidarity and support!

I'm not sure what the New Year means to you. For me, it's the realization that another year of mental and emotional torture has started! I constantly ask myself, is this the year of justice and freedom? Or just another year of the same?

Is this the year that I lose my battle against constant attacks of claustrophobia, mental and emotional pain and suffering?  Is the year that I run out of creative ways that allow me to ignore time and space, and the weight of the world crushes me, instead of making me stronger?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Moral Outrage: Albert Woodfox's 41 Years in Solitary Confinement, Despite Three Overturned Convictions --An interview with Rev. Dr. Patricia Bates

(PHOTO: On behalf of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Rev. Dr. Patricia Bates speaks in support of Albert Woodfox at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge on October 21, 2013.)

A Moral Outrage: Albert Woodfox's 41 Years in Solitary Confinement, Despite Three Overturned Convictions 
--An interview with Rev. Dr. Patricia Teel Bates

By Angola 3 News

This past Fall, Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 made news headlines around the world when his conviction was overturned and he was dramatically released from prison after 41 years in solitary confinement. At the time of his release on October 1, 2013 he had been fighting terminal liver cancer for several months. Three days later, on Oct. 4, Herman was surrounded by loved ones as he passed on at a friend's house in New Orleans, Louisiana.

As reported by Democracy Now, one of the final things that Herman said was, "I am free. I am free." Twelve years previously in 2001,  after 29 years in solitary confinement, Robert H. King was the first of the Angola 3 to be released. Today, Albert Woodfox remains the sole Angola 3 member still in prison.  Currently housed in solitary confinement and forced to endure routine body cavity searches at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, LA, Albert's conviction has now been overturned three times.

On Oct. 15, Amnesty International declared: "Herman died a free man. Let's help Albert live as one." Amnesty's call to action quoted a message from Herman released during his final few weeks: "I want the world to know that I am an innocent man and that Albert Woodfox is innocent as well...The state may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Albert Woodfox's Hour in the 5th: A reportback on Albert's January 7 oral arguments

MEDIA:  Lauren McGaughy, Times-Picayune  II  Daily Journal / Associated Press  II  UPI

VIEW / DOWNLOAD:  A3 info flyer for Jan. 7  II  Listen to audio from the oral arguments  II  Rev. Patricia Bates / NRCAT statement

(PHOTO: A3 supporters at the Court on Jan. 7)

For those who were unable to attend, Albert's oral argument in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, defending Judge Brady's decision to overturn his conviction for a third time, is now complete (click here to listen).  As expected, the proceedings were brief and rather mystifying.  It was clear that most of the judges had already spent a great deal of time reviewing and considering the case, and were just tying up a few arcane legal loose ends.

Monday, January 6, 2014

On the eve of Albert Woodfox's 5th Circuit oral arguments, Amnesty International demands his immediate release

MEDIA COVERAGE:  Lauren McGaughy, Times-Picayune  II  The Republic / Associated Press

After decades of appeals and counter-appeals, delays and diversions, the 5th Circuit Court will review Judge Brady's decision to overturn Albert's conviction tomorrow. 

Years and years of efforts to bring attention to this case and to see that justice is finally done will culminate in the outcome of this important hearing.